A growing feud between Chimy’s Cerveceria and a street vendor reached its peak Wednesday when the Lubbock City Council voted to require all vendors wishing to operate in a city parking space to get a street-use license.
Pete Gotsis, owner and operator of Pete’s Curbside, said he used to set up his food cart on a sidewalk close to the restaurant on Broadway.
For two years, the pair coexisted in relative harmony, Gotsis said, with the mobile food cart even providing free food to some of Chimy’s employees as a way of saying “thanks” for letting him sell close to the Mexican restaurant.
But about a year ago, Gotsis said, a Chimy’s manager said free food was not enough.
“He said ‘I’m gonna have to ask for more than just food,’ ” Gotsis said of the manager, whom he identified as Alvin Morin.
Gotsis said Morin was implying monetary kickbacks. Morin said the accusations are completely false, declining to comment further.
The owners of Chimy’s are Mark Wright and Kyle Wright, according to published reports. They could not be reached for comment.
Gotsis said the police have been called on him several times, and he has since moved farther down the street to a parking space by Mesquite’s Bar & Grill.
Before Wednesday, the language of the ordinance requiring street-use licenses only included sidewalks and sidewalk areas.
Gotsis said he was always told by officials not to worry about where he set up his 4-by-6-foot cart, which sells burgers, Phillys, sausages and grilled cheese. He said he is happy to apply for any license; he is upset with how it came up.
The owner of Mesquites, Shane Byrd, said he has not had a serious problem with Gotsis selling by the bars, although he has noticed a small dip in late-night food sales.
Byrd said he would have to speak with an attorney before giving an OK to anyone selling in front of his bar, making sure everything was legal and also was not going to affect his business.
Byrd, though, acknowledged the feud between Chimy’s and Gotsis. He said he was approached by the Mexican restaurant’s management asking if he and Gotsis had any agreements.
Byrd said Mesquite’s and Pete’s are not affiliated in any way.
“Those guys have an ongoing feud, and I guess it’s coming to a head,” he said.
The council voted 6-1 for the requirement of the permit, with Councilman Todd Klein the lone negative vote.
Klein said he wanted to see an actual application for the permit before he was 100 percent OK with the amendment to the ordinance.
There is no application in the books for this kind of license, said Davy Booher, city right-of-way agent.
Fine-tuning an application will take a little time, he said.
Most applications for street-use licenses are relating to permanent items, such as an air-conditioning unit jutting into a city alley.
Chad Weaver, assistant city attorney, said he expects the application form to be ready before Jan. 1. An application needs to be filed with Booher, Weaver said, and the council must approve any street-use license.
Weaver said the cost for an application is $250. Booher said the license costs as low as $100 per year to maintain.
Weaver said the ordinance will not go into effect until Jan. 7, and the license requirement will not be enforced by the city until the council has a chance to either accept or deny the permit request.
The council’s next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 12.
Weaver said the application will include things like location desired and specific operation hours.
Also, Councilman Jim Gilbreath requested a notice provision for the application — meaning the businesses around the potential vending location will be notified of the application and given a chance to dissent.
Russell Schlegel sells brick-oven pizzas outside Broadway-area bars Rocky Larue’s and Bar PM.
Schlegel said he will apply for a permit as soon as the applications are available.
As for problems with local merchants, he has not had any.
“I’ve never had any issue with any merchant down there,” he said. “Even though they’re public spaces, I have never set up without first talking to the business owners that they are 100 percent OK with me being there.”
Ted Rushing co-owns the property many of the Broadway restaurants are on, including Chimy’s, Jimmy John’s and Freebirds.
Rushing said his main concerns were fairness, safety and the purpose of the parking spots.
While each side presented cases regarding the fairness and safety of allowing vendors to operate in the area, Rushing’s argument of the spaces being there for consumers to park and enjoy the restaurants and shops won over a couple of council members.
District 4 representative Paul Beane called the issue a no-brainer, asking Police Chief Roger Ellis to state the definition and purpose of a parking spot.
Both Jimmy John’s and Chimy’s have parking lots for their customers, with towing signs posted throughout.
Rushing added he would be fine with the vendors if his tenants were OK with it.
Vendors who traverse city sidewalks — such as pushing an ice-cream cart up and down the street — do not have to apply for a street-use license because they are not setting up permanently.
The penalty for violating the new ordinance is a citation for maintaining a public nuisance, and is a Class C misdemeanor, Weaver said.